The Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) and Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute will jointly roll out a first-of-its-kind course in India on Buddist heritage and tourism. The universities plan to increase the popularity of Buddhist heritage sites like the Ajanta and Ellora caves.
Last week, an MoU was inked between the heads of the two institutions – Prof Nitin Karmalkar, Vice-Chancellor, SPPU and Prof Prasad Joshi, Vice-Chancellor (Acting) of Deccan College.
The one-and-a-half-year-long postgraduate diploma (PGD) course is unique as it combines Buddhist heritage, history and culture with tourism. The course will commence from 2021 – 2022 and graduates from all faculty are eligible to apply. The PGD degree will be awarded by SPPU.
“Students will be required to undertake an entrance test where their knowledge on basic Buddhist literature, heritage sites, history and culture will be tested. The present course intake has been decided at 30, excluding foreign nationals,” said Prof Mahesh Deokar, head, Department of Pali at SPPU.
Buddhist Literature and Philosophical Heritage, History of Buddhism in Asia, Buddhist Virtual Art, Architecture of world Buddisht Heritage sites, Buddhist Pilgrimage and sites in India, Living Buddhist Cultural Heritage, Fundamentals of Tourism, Tourism and Heritage Studies will be the broad topics covered during the three-semester programme. Faculty from the Department of Pali, SPPU and visiting scholars from Deccan College will take the lectures.
“We aim to introduce students to the history of Buddhism in India and Asia, its heritage and literature and also the world Buddhist heritage circuits with special focus on Indian sites. The Ajanta and Ellora caves are popular among visitors. But there are similar and equally magnificent Buddhist heritage sites in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra which are not very well known even today,” said Dr Shrikant Ganvir, assistant professor in Ancient Indian History and Culture, at the Deccan College.
Tourism is one of the largest employers both globally and in India. This course , experts say, will be a platform for budding tourist guides who can specialise in working at Buddhist heritage sites in India and abroad.
“More often than not, tourists and visitors from Buddhist-majority countries like China, Japan, Sri Lanka and Thailand do not get to learn about Buddhism or its history when they visit Indian sites. Through internships and training in tourism management, we hope to prepare students for the tourism industry, especially for Buddhist heritage sites,” added Ganvir.
The two institutions plan to also offer hands-on training by arranging internships and workshops.
“We are planning to bring industry experts and tie up with tourism sector departments of the government so that students get to learn on the job. This could include joining ongoing projects and field work to heritage sites,” said Deokar.